Pete Doherty, Meet the Art World

What does a Kate Moss ex-boyfriend and Babyshambles frontman, heroin highway rock & roll bad boy art exhibition opening look like? A lot of whiskey, cigarette smoke, and paintings splattered in blood…

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Pete’s exhibition, “Flags from an old Regime” was held at the Chappe Gallery in the more sketchy outskirts of Paris. What happened in Williamsburg Brooklyn ten years ago is starting to happen in Paris now, just a decade later, as is the French tradition. The once deemed unsafe outer arrondissements of the city are becoming hip destinations with that oh so coveted “underground chic” appeal, which always seems to permeate into the higher layers of society at one point in time.

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The man of the evening was late. Hardcore late. Rumor at the opening was that he had missed his train from London. But it only added to the effect of the evening, I don’t think anyone would have expected anything less, it felt more authentic this way. One apparition of the artist did appear on time however, in the form of a flat screen with a recording of Pete staring into the camera with a curious detachment as if watching over his exhibition as a ghost would linger around his own funeral.

Personally, I went by the theory that he wasn’t late at all but that this was actually a live recording, and he just decided to bag the whole thing, stay home and watch the show from behind his computer through live cam. One could understand that a bottle of Jack would be better company than a room full of Paris art scene groupies.

It later turned out that his reason for missing the opening entirely was pretty legit. He had been incarcerated for breaching his probation terms, apparently refusing to comply with a court ordered drug test.

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Doherty has received quite a lot of criticism for his move from music into the visual arts. In his deference, this wasn’t exactly an impulsive move or hurried development of artistic style. He’s been creating in this aesthetic for years, his work first appearing to the public in photographic Rock Diaries of Hedi Slimane, the now Creative Director of Saint Laurent. The fact that he has started exhibiting his paintings––done in an what miss Moss called, an “arterial [blood] splatter technique,” littered with memory paraphernalia and lovesick scribble––under the title of an artist, along with his reputation, attracts judgement from the international art scene. The deal breaker for me was one photographic self-portrait of the artist drinking, and which was covered in indecipherable scribble next to a star of David and a swastika. Doherty’s been called a “poser” by many a reputable publications, but his creations were actually quite authentic considering the junkied-out of control rocker cautionary tale status of the artist himself.

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